For many people, the day begins and ends with technology. A warbling smartphone serves as a reminder to rise and shine. A nighttime perusal of TikTok provides a relaxing way to unwind after turning off the light. It’s like everyone’s living in between a “tech sandwich”—and it’s tough not to feel the pinch. Here are tips for digital wellbeing in a technology age.
What’s wrong with being always-on and always tethered? Like anything, Wellbeing in a Technology can get to overload status quickly. Indeed, half of younger tech users self-reported a tech obsession during a research project a couple years ago. And the numbers of tech-addicted individuals seem to be increasing year after year.
What’s the answer, then, if you’re feeling the tug of tech during your waking hours? You don’t have to jettison all your technical devices, install a landline, and only use your laptop for remote work. That’s not realistic given today’s societal rhythm. At the same time, you can employ a few strategies to help you and everyone in your household maintain a healthier relationship with tech.
1. Treat tech as a tool.
Technology may feel like a familiar friend, but it’s not. It’s a tool to get you something you want. For instance, when you want to get in touch with an actual buddy, you can send a text, email, or DM. Think of Wellbeing in a Technology as a way for you to make your life easier, not to eat up your time.
Before picking up any device, such as a tablet, ask yourself why you’re about to go online. Do you have an actual purpose? Or are you looking for a distraction? Make sure you have a reason to use tech. You’ll be less likely to fritter away precious minutes.
2. Keep kids’ tech limited.
Do you just hand your phone to your child whenever you want a break from parenting? Watch what you’re doing, because you’re giving your child access to the Internet, apps, and everything else on your phone. Children should have limited time with the Wellbeing in a Technology, including when they get a phone of their own.
In fact, when you’re shopping around for a first phone for kids, look for options that don’t allow your children to do too much. All they need is a way to reach you and some friends, and maybe take pictures. They don’t need to be able to send emails, visit social media, browse Google, play games incessantly, or have access to the app store. Leave those opportunities for later when they’re more mature and can handle the full-scale responsibility of smartphone ownership.
3. Turn off tech gadgetry.
Lots of families keep all their tech on, all the time. The televisions blaring from the family room. Every laptop’s turned on and ready for action. Even personal assistants are alert and ready to fetch Amazon Prime orders or create to-do lists.
Instead of keeping all your tech in the “on” position, give it a rest. Allow your house to be quiet sometimes, or at least only allow noise that comes from non-tech items like musical instruments or youngsters’ playing pick-up basketball in the driveway. If tech isn’t instantly available, it’s less of a temptation or distraction. Be sure to do the same with your phone: Shutting it off or eliminating notifications for a while can be freeing.
4. Chill out offline.
Relaxation can come in many forms. If you’re constantly trying to relax by picking up your phone or watching what’s on the DVR, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Plus, the later at night you stare at a screen, the harder it will be to get your zzzs. The light emitted from screens can mess up your sleep cycle, making it tough to feel well-rested.
What can you do offline? Honestly, you have unlimited possibilities at your fingertips. Go for a walk. Discover a book. Bake a seven-layer cake. Clean the bathrooms. Handwrite a greeting card to send to a long-lost pal. As long as you’re eschewing tech, you’re giving your brain a chance to unwind from the constant barrage of digital messaging.
5. Slack off on social.
As a final suggestion to more healthfully incorporate tech into your schedule, scale back on your use of social media. This could mean checking in only once or twice, instead of multiple times. Or, you might want to slack off to the point of only visiting your social pages every few days.
The less often you’re on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, the less you’ll find you need them. At first, you may have a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out,) but it will pass if you let it. Most alerts aren’t that important, anyway. Eventually, you’ll be able to get a better balance of what’s truly important and what’s merely idle—and unessential—chatter.
It’s possible to live with tech without feeling like it’s taking over your world. Just take a few intentional steps to help you put technology in its proper place. That way, you’ll feel more in control of everything you do digitally.